Satellite internet has been making headlines lately, especially due to its potential role in the development of 6G technology. This technology is not only seen as a significant advancement but also as a battleground for the ongoing technological cold war between the United States and China. In this context, China recently achieved a major breakthrough in the field, conducting a successful test on a crucial communication device.
The team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics in Xian recently announced this achievement. While the technological aspect still requires further development, the Chinese satellite internet system still lags behind that of the United States. This admission is partly due to crucial components and materials being controlledAmerican big tech companies, which puts China at a visible disadvantage.
The device testedChina is based on “space optical switching technology” and is mounted on a satellite. It enables the transfer of light signals from one location to another without converting them into electrical signals, functioning similarly to a mirror. This innovative approach eliminates the need for light-to-electrical signal conversion, resulting in significant improvements in performance, capacity, flexibility, and transmission speed.
According to a Chinese document publishedteam members, the “approved” device can support a switching capacity of 40 gigabits per second, a significant advancement compared to traditional switching technology. After being launched into orbit aboard the Chinese Y7 carrier rocket, the device returned to Earth with intact image information, without any data loss.
Switches, often referred to as “switching points,” play a crucial role in communication networks. They heavily impact data distribution along a specific line, ensuring its timely delivery to the intended recipient. Traditionally, satellite-to-Earth connections have relied on microwave technology, which is limitedits narrow frequency range, resulting in slower transfer speeds. However, the recent use of lasers has increased bandwidth and the amount of data transmitted per transmission. Elon Musk’s Starlink and some Chinese operators are already investing in laser technology, despite being aware of its limitations. Optical space switching without electrical signal conversion eliminates the electronic bottleneck effect and could potentially reduce the construction costs of specialized switching structures.
This successful Chinese test opens up the possibility of processing more than 100 gigabits per second in the future, a nearly impossible feat if tied to traditional switching structures. The sectors that stand to benefit the most from this advanced optical switching system are satellite remote sensing, supercomputing, and mobile communication for 6G technology. These fields require high-speed and high-capacity data transmission, making this new technology strategically vital for associated business models. Opp.Today